Hayes Carll - Trouble In Mind (Lost Highway)
Following in the footsteps of fellow Texas storytellers Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and Billy Joe Shaver, Carll effectively combines humor and heartbreak on tracks including "She Left Me For Jesus" and "Bad Liver And A Broken Heart."
Old 97s - Blame It On Gravity (New West)
It's good to have the Old 97s back now that Rhett Miller has put his solo career on hiatus. On Blame It On Gravity, the alt-country outfit sticks to its formula of effectively melding Americana, rock and pop.
REM - Murmur (reissue) (Universal)
Michael Stipe seemed to be singing in a secret language, but the listener didn't get a decoder ring. It didn't matter - Stipe's vocals and the band's murky-yet-jangly sound took college radio to new heights. Included in this reissue is a 16-track live show that captures the band in early, raw fashion with hints of bigger things to come.
Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life (Bloodshot)
Being the offspring of a legend can open doors for you, but inevitably brings bigger expectations once you cross the threshhold. When you're the son of Steve Earle who's also named for legend Townes Van Zandt, the pressure seems more amplified. Thankfully, Justin doesn't try to be anyone but himself and The Good Life promises more great songs on the horizon.
Porter Batiste Stoltz - Moodoo (Highsteppin')
The instrumental supergroup of George Porter, Jr., Russell Batiste, Jr. and Brian Stoltz writes the next chapter of classic New Orleans funk a-la The Meters, Galactic and The Neville Brothers. Heavy on grooves and lengthy jams, the live Moodoo finds Phish keyboardist Page McConnell guesting on five tracks.
Jamey Johnson - That Lonesome Song (Mercury)
The ex-Marine and noted songwriter steps to the forefront for a disc of intimate yet radio-friendly songs. Riding on the strength of the hit single "In Color," Johnson brings a refreshing honesty back to popular country music.
Hall & Oates - Live At The Troubadour (Shout! Factory)
The duo gets back to its roots by holding a two-night stand at the famed L.A. venue. The result is this CD/DVD combo that finds inspired versions of old favorites ("Rich Girl," "Sara Smile") placed alongside obscure tracks ("Cab Driver," "When The Morning Comes").
The Replacements'a0 - Please To Meet Me (reissue) (Rhino)
It's hard to choose one release from the wave of 2008 'Mat's reissues. Pleased To Meet Me gets the nod given the band's creative triumph in the aftermath of Bob Stinson's firing. Diversity is king among the 11 tracks, including the radio-friendly "Alex Chilton," the smoky "Nightclub Jitters," the acoustic ballad "Skyway" and the dramatic "The Ledge." The reissue includes 11 bonus tracks featuring demos, alternate versions and covers.
JJ Grey & Mofro - Orange Blossoms (Alligator)
Grey and Mofro hit their swampy stride on this 12-track set. On Orange Blossoms, the band's Southern soul is loaded with infectious grooves that ring in your head after the music stops playing.
Tab Benoit - Night Train To Nashville (Telarc)
A live set from the stalwart Louisiana bluesman and wetlands activist. Benoit has always shined in the live setting, and Night Train To Nashville captures him in his natural element.